The Story Begins…
In the early 1800’s a man called John Gray, a gardener, arrived in Edinburgh looking for work. The weather was cold, so there were no gardening jobs available. He took what work he could find, and became a Constable of the Edinburgh Police Force.
As a condition of his job, John Gray was required to have a dog. He bought a Skye Terrier and named him Bobby, who quickly became a loving and loyal companion.
A Sad Event
Unfortunately, several years later, John Gray became ill with tuberculosis, and died in February 1858. He was buried in old Greyfriars Kirkyard in an unremarkable grave with no gravestone.
Unbelievably, for the next fourteen years, Bobby sat and kept guard over his master’s grave. He left the grave only for food, waiting patiently until the one o’clock gun was sounded, when he visited a nearby cafe which he used to visit with his master. There the owners would feed him his dinner. The last owner to feed Bobby, John Traill, had a special dish made for him which can be seen in the Museum of Edinburgh.
The gardener and keeper of the graveyard, James Brown, tried to remove Bobby from the Kirkyard, but finally gave up and provided shelter at the side of John Gray’s grave, instead.
Fame For Bobby
Bobby’s fame spread throughout Edinburgh. On a daily basis crowds would gather at the graveyard waiting for the one o’clock gun and a glimpse of Bobby leaving for his meal.
In 1867 a law was passed that required dogs to be licensed. Sir William Chambers, The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, paid Bobby’s license himself, and presented him with a collar with the inscription “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed”.
The people of Edinburgh looked after the famous Bobby while he watched over his master. Bobby died in 1872.
Statue in Tribute to Bobby
Greyfriars Bobby, Scotland’s most famous dog, is not forgotten. A statue was unveiled in November 1873 opposite the Kirkyard graveyard, on the corner of Candlemakers Row and King George IV Bridge.
Bobby’s grave can be found in Greyfriars Kirkyard, about 75 yards from John Gray’s grave. The headstone is engraved with these words:
Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years
Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all
For More On This Topic
Greyfriars Bobby (1961) ~ Movie
Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby ~ Movie
Greyfriars Bobby: The Legend of the Little Scottish Dog ~ Book
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